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Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Tripos


Please be advised that the PBS course structure will be changing from the 2024-25 academic year onwards. The information below is split based the year students enter the course.


For students who matriculated prior to the 2024-25 academic year

Below is the list of papers available in the first year. Students take a total of four papers, the following two are compulsory:

PBS 1: Introduction to Psychology

This course aims to introduce a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of Psychology. Through studying this course, students will develop their understanding of how the different approaches address specific topics within psychology. Topics are selected such that students without prior training in psychology will not be disadvantaged. After a brief introduction to the history of psychology, and its various sub-disciplines, a series of four broad topics will be explored. Each topic will be covered over seven lectures, with research and ideas from different theoretical viewpoints being discussed and compared in an additional panel session at the end of each topic.

PBS 2: Psychological Enquiry and Methods

This course covers the foundations of psychological study, including the mathematical and biological knowledge and skills required to engage with the research literature. The material on this course provides a foundation for all later study of psychology, providing students with the intellectual tools required to evaluate psychological material in later years. Teaching includes a range of techniques, including mathematics lectures and examples classes in the morning, and interactive afternoon sessions each fortnight.


Optional papers vary from year to year, but will typically include topics on the following:

  • Archaeology
  • Biological Anthropology
  • Evolution and Behaviour
  • Social Anthropology
  • Sociology
  • Philosophy

For students admitted to the PBS course from the 2024-25 academic year onwards

In Part IA, you take a total of four papers, three of which are compulsory:

  • Introduction to Experimental Psychology and Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology, Applied Psychology and Individual Differences
  • From Subjective Questions to Objective Science

The remaining paper is chosen from a selection of around nine options. The optional papers available each year may vary but subjects usually include:

  • biological and social anthropology
  • evolution and behaviour
  • politics
  • philosophy
  • sociology

You will be assessed via a range of laboratory reports, and written exams.